What does the COP21 Paris Agreement mean for Africa?

17 Dec 2015

Two members of a local association of volunteers plant a young tree in a school yard in the town of Goma, North Kivu province. 30 November 2013. Photo: MONUSCO/ Sylvain Liechti.
On 12 December 2015, delegates from more than 190 nations at the 21stConference of Parties (COP 21), agreed to the Paris Agreement, an ambitious global plan to tackle climate change. As a next step in implementation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene a high level signing ceremony on 22 April 2016 in New York, USA, and the agreement can only enter into force once it has been ratified by 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of emissions.  But what does this deal mean for Africa?  The top three wins for Africa in the Paris Agreement could be summarized as follows:  A balanced and ambitious agreement on adaptation and mitigation Under the leadership of the African Group of Negotiators, African countries successfully advocated for a balanced agreement that addresses both mitigation and adaptation in equal measure, in a departure from the Kyoto Protocol which focused significantly on mitigation. Adaptation is critical for African countries that are highly vulnerable to climate change due to heavy reliance on the agricultural sector, and being the least contributor of global CO2 emissions.  The Agreement also urges all countries to submit adaptation needs, priorities and plans, which developed countries will support. While the Agreement confirms a … Read more

What’s at stake for Africa at COP21

07 Dec 2015

UNDP is helping Rwanda boost resilience to disasters and the effects of climate change. Photo: UNDP Rwanda.
The international community is currently mobilized around the ongoing 21stConference of Parties (COP 21) taking place from 30 November to 11 December in Paris, France, and where delegates from around the world are expected to agree on a global plan to tackle climate change. This is a critical moment for the world in general, and Africa in particular. Africa is especially vulnerable to the effects of anthropogenic climate change even though its contribution to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is negligible when compared to that of industrialized regions. With two-thirds of working Africans making a living off the land, erratic and extreme weather patterns resulting in floods and drought affect food security as well as economic activity. Models indicate climate change could cause annual losses that amount to 1.5-3 percent of GDP by 2030. The recently-released 2015 Africa Adaptation Gap Report estimates that Africa’s costs for adapting to climate change will run to USD $7-15 billion per year by 2020. In the scenario that the global temperature rise is kept below 2°C, this figure could rise to $50 billion per year by 2050. Beyond 2°C, the cost of adaptation could reach a staggering $100 billion per year. As such, the African … Read more

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